Growing up in Portland, Oregon, one of the things that I grew up with a deep sense of appreciation for are street artists and performers. In fact, some of the greatest musicians that I have heard (specifically drummers), have come from passing them by on the streets. Captivating me with their creativity and imagination as well as an unprecedented ability to put themselves out there for all to see, I will almost always stop for several minutes to watch these performers do their thing(s).
Of all of the brilliant street performances that I’ve seen, none stand out to me quite like one mime that I saw in Portland. An amazing control over his body, he was able to maintain a statue-like position for several minutes until, at last, someone would deposit some change into his collection plate; from there he would do some of the most imaginative and impressive miming I have ever seen. It was seemingly flawless. Capturing every movement and idiosyncrasies of this counterpart, it was captivating. To have this kind of control of one’s actions and ability to mimic the actions of others was unlike anything I had seen before.
As I was reading through Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, I was taken back to a place of sheer amazement at his words which seem to take on the direction of a mime.
14 “I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. 15 For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. 16 So I urge you to imitate me. 17 That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.”
(1 Corinthians 4:14-17 | NLT)
Paul is addressing a group of people who are trying to mimic the actions of man, whether Cephas or Apollos, these men were divided over who to follow. What’s more is that this was a culture where public fame was something desired by many and learning to imitate the actions of those with notoriety was a common practice.
Just beyond chapter 4, verse 17 is verse 20 where Paul says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” This is critical in processing how people live their lives. Whether people are busy looking to others for a model to follow or are doing little more than talking about what kind of person they are, Paul has a very different approach that he gives people to consider and to follow.
I love how Paul reminds the church of the actions that he had displayed while he was among them the first time planting the church, building into their lives, teaching, loving, admonishing and more. In other words, Paul is who he says he is and his actions dictate this fact; not merely his words. He says, I’m going to send my son Timothy, (a term of endearment) as one who knows me: my life, my work, my walk, my words, and can attest that what I say to you is in fact how I am living my life. This gives both credibility and authority to Paul as he instructs those that he is responsible to care for.
So what you you and me? We have a responsibility for those that are in our lives don’t we: our family, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, etc. We have an incredible mandate on our lives to show people Christ with our lives and to use our words in auxiliary to how we are living.
If someone were to mimic your actions and your faith and how you live your life, what kind of person would they be. What would that look like? Consider today what God has called you to and what kind of impact you might have if you live out your faith in all things. As Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Let’s be the example of Christ today!